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Thoughts on Illusionist/Thief

At first, I was a little reluctant to give the illusionist/thief a run. I have played off on for over 20 years and never tried a mage/thief. For most of my play-throughs, I have played something mixed with a melee class with favorites being dual Kensai Druid, fighter/illusionist, and fighter/thief. My most recent play through being a half-orc fighter/thief wrecking things with crazy backstabs and high strength throwing daggers. I was concerned about the lack of THACO for backstabs and melee ability, but my illusionist/thief has been awesome. After tomes, his stats are pretty balanced:

Gimble Gryffindor

I am in chapter 7 of BG and backstabs haven't been an issue. I know later it will fall off, but so far not an issue and I already have traps up to 75 to compensate. With a short sword and crossbow of speed, he has been more than just a support character with 30% of kills in a five-person party including, Minsc, Kivan, Imoen, and Faldron. Gimble focuses on crowd control while Imoen focuses on firepower.

I like how he does a little bit of everything. I have really taken advantage of wands this run. I had always tried to "save for later" with wands and potions and realized at the end of the game I have plenty leftover. So I have been using both more.

Besides the usual minimalist mods like SCS, UB, RR, Song and Silence, and tweaks, I tried Spell Revisions and Item Revisions this go round. Both are great. And the added IWD spells, especially for Faldorn, who I made an Avenger, have been awesome.

Anyhow, if others are like me and search/read posts for character ideas for future play throughs and you are thinking of a mage/thief, but concerned that they will "only be" a support character, I have found that my illusionist/thief is the most involved character. Been fun.


  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 1,525
    If you're going to stick with backstab, I'd suggest adding quarterstaff and two-handed weapon style. It will be better damage output in the long run. A +3 staff is available in BG, and a +4 is available right at the start of BG2. And blunt damage is preferable, imo.

    Blindness of course is so solid in BG1 and stays pretty useful throughout and it's nice to have that 10% extra save failure from illusionist. The specialist also works well, imo, with investing in invisibility spells and thus putting off investing points in stealth until you have nothing else to invest in. Can boost find traps, locks, set traps then even detect illusion first. All important thief skills.
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,620
    Backstabs, in general, work well pretty much all the way. There are a few kinds of monsters that you can't stab, and then ToB throws backstab immunity on some random stuff for no good reason, but most enemies are vulnerable all the way through to the end. Also, you get so many attack bonuses on a backstab - +4 for being invisible, ignoring Dex bonuses, +4 attack and damage against enemies without melee weapons - that hitting with them is rarely a problem even with poor base THAC0.

    What Illusionist/Thieves are the absolute masters of - not fighting. There's no one better at sneaking past obstacles and only destroying what you absolutely need to. I've used the class for two solo/near-solo runs - a "pacifist" run killing as little as possible, and a speedrun that aimed to finish Sarevok off in as little in-game time as possible - that one finished in the early morning of day 3, with the protagonist at level 3/4.
    Of course, that doesn't really apply in a party. The rest of your team can't keep up with you if you're doing those crazy stunts like sneaking past the entire bandit camp without fighting.
  • shylamanshylaman Member Posts: 163
    @DinoDin in the unmodded game QS are definitely more powerful for backstabbing, but I am running Item Revisions. One of the components makes for more realistic backstabbing. QS gets a -2 penalty to backstab multiplier. Plus, gnome sprites look kind of goofy running around with a QS. It looks like they are going to pole vault. lol

    I am into SoD now. Things are going well. I have set traps built up. I am going to have to start experimenting more with those. I never used them much in previous run-throughs.
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